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and the wages of labor low, could never have emerged from the poor condition wherein they were born.
From the salubrity of the air, the healthiness of the climate, the plenty of good provisions, and the encouragement to early marriages by the certainty of subsistence in cultivating the earth, the increase of inhabitants by natural generation is very rapid in America, and becomes still more so by the accession of strangers; hence there is a continual demand for artisans of all the necessary and useful kinds, to supply those cultivators of the earth with houses, and with furniture and utensils of the grosser sorts, which cannot so well be brought from Europe. Tolerably good workmen in any of those mechanic arts are sure to find employ, and to be well paid for their work, there being no restraints preventing strangers from exercising any art they understand, nor any permission necessary. If they are poor, they begin first as servants or journeymen; and if they are sober, industrious, and frugal, they soon become masters, establish themselves in business, marry, raise families, and become respectable citizens.
Also, persons of moderate fortunes and capitals, who, having a number of children to provide for, are desirous of bringing them up to industry, and to secure estates for their posterity, have opportunities of doing it in America, which Europe does not afford. There they may be taught and practise profitable mechanic arts, without incurring disgrace on that account, but on the contrary acquiring respect by such abilities. There small capitals laid out in lands, which daily become more valuable by the increase of people, afford a solid prospect of ample fortunes thereafter for those children.
III. GRANTS OF LAND AND LAND TENURE
A. New England Laws on Inheritance, 16411 These laws show not merely the effect of the Mosaic law upon the legal theories of the early Pilgrims, but also the effect of common land holdings in England. It took some time for them to adjust their theories to the reality of practically unlimited land and to admit unrestricted private property in land.
CHAP. IV.- Of the right of Inheritance. 1. First, Forasmuch as the right of disposals of the Inheritance of all Lands in the Countrey, lyeth in the Generall Court, whatsoever Lands are given and assigned by the Generall Court, to any Town or person shall belong and remaine as right of Inheritance to
1 An Abstract of the Lavves of Nevv England as they are novv established (London, 1641). In Force, Tracts and Other Papers (Washington, 1844), III, no. ix, 8–10.
such Townes and to their successors, and to such persons and their heires and Assignes as their propriety for ever.
Whatsoever Lands belong to any Town, shall be given and assigned by the Town or by such Officers therein, as they shall appoint unto any person, the same shall belong and remaine, unto such persons and his heires and assignes as his proper right for ever.
3. And in dividing of Lands to the severall persons in each Town, as regard is to be had partly to the number of the persons in family: To the more assigning the greater allotment, to the fewer lesse, and partly by the number of beasts, by the which a man is fit to occupy the Land assigned to him, and subdue it: Eminent respect (in this case may be given to men of eminent quality and descent) in assigning unto them more large and honorable accommodations, in regard of their great disbursements to publike charges.
4. Forasmuch as all Civill affaires are to be administered and ordered, so as may best conduce to the upholding and setting forward of the worship of God in Church fellowship. It is therefore ordered, that wheresoever the Lands of any mans Inheritance shall fall, yet no man shall set his dwelling house above the distance of halfe a mile or a mile at the furthest, from the meeting of the Congregation, where the Church doth usually assemble for the worship of God.
5. Inheritances are to descend naturally to the next of kinne, according to the Law of Nature, delivered by God.
6. If a man have more Sonnes than one, then a double portion to be assigned, and bequeathed to the eldest Son, according to the Law of Nature, unlesse his own demerit do deprive him of the dignity of his Birth right. .
B. Advice on Granting Lands, 1665 1 These suggestions as to granting land in a new country are significant, for they show the slight value that attaches to the land and the paramount necessity of attracting settlers. Under such conditions it was not to be wondered at that large grants were frequent. Woodward was surveyor for the proprietors of Carolina.
... I UNDERSTAND by M' Drummond and M' Carterett that you and the rest of the Right Honorable the Lords Proprietors of the Province of Carolina have appointed me to be Surveyor for your Countie of Albemarle. ... And though I know it befitts not me to dispute your commands but rather to operate them Coeca Obedientia yet (by your Honors permission) I cannot omit to per
· Colonial Records of North Carolina. Edited by W. L. Saunders (Raleigh, 1886), I, 99-100.
forme another part of my dutie (so I am though unworthy) one of the counsell here to give you my opinion concerning some passages in the Instructions your Honore sent us.
Next the Proportione of Land you have allotted with the Rent, and conditione are by most People not well resented and the very Rumor of them dis-courages many who had intentions to have removed from Virginia hether: Whilst my Lord Baltamore allowed to every persons imported but fiftie acres; Maryland for many yeares had scarce fiftie families, though there Rent was rather easier then in Virginia; but when he allotted one hundred Acres for a Person, it soone began to People, and when he found them begin to increase, he brought it to fiftie a head againe So if your Lordships please to give large Incouragement for some time till the country be more fully Peopled, your Honore may contract for the future upon what condition you please But for the Present, To thenke that any men will remove from Virginia upon harder Conditione then they can live there will prove (I feare) a vaine Imagination, It bein Land only that they come for.
And it is my Opinion, (which I submitt to better Judgments) that it will for some time conduce more to your Lordshipe Profit to permit men to take up what tracts of Land they please at an easie rate, then to stint them to small proportions at a great rent, Provided it be according to the custome of Virginia which is fifty Pole by the river side, and one mile into the woods for every hundred acres; there being no man that will have any great desire to pay Rent (though but a farthing an acre) for more land than he hopes to gaine by. Rich men (which Albemarle stands in much need of) may perhaps take up great Tracts; but then they will endeavour to procure Tenants to helpe towards the payment of their Rent, and will at their owne charge build howseing (which poore men cannot compasse) to invite them: ..
C. Grants of Land by Governors, 1774 In all the provinces grants of land had been made by the governors to colonists and others, sometimes improperly and upon an enormous scale. The information contained in this extract was collected by the Board of Trade to form the basis of new instructions to the governors in the matter of granting land. These instructions were issued in 1774.
From the above Extracts and Observations it appears that the Governors derive their Power of granting Lands solely from their
1 Public Record Office, London.
Colonial Office, Papers, 5.
Instructions, that these Powers differ according to the Circumstances of the different Provinces, and that some of the Governors have no Power to grant Lands:
In Virginia, which is an Old and well peopled Province, the Governor is restrained from granting more than 1000 Acres in one Grant to one Person. In Nova Scotia which is a late settled Province and where the Land from its Northern Situation is reckoned not so valuable the Governor has the power of granting the enormous Quantity of 100,000 Acres: In West Florida and East Florida the quantity is 20,000 Acres, And in Granada and the ceded Islands where the Land has been esteemed extremely valuable the Gov' has no Power of granting even an Acre, this Trust being thought worthy of a very expensive manner of Sale by Commissioners under a Special Commission, to the Validity of whose Grants the Consent of the Governor is however requisite in the first Instance, and the Confirmation of the Lords Commissioners of the Treasury in the last.
The Power of granting Lands being therefore derived from the Instructions, a fresh Instruction may either increase, diminish or entirely annul the Governors Power of Granting Lands.
Method of Granting Land in Pensylvania.
Dr. Franklin's account of the Method of granting Lands in Pensilvania.
The whole lands are at the absolute Disposal of the Proprietor, who grants them in what quantities and upon what Conditions he pleases. The Method which has been generally followed hitherto is this
The Power to grant Lands has been given to the Governor by a Special Commission. When any Person applyes for a Grant there is a Warrant for a Survey, issued from the Land Office, returnable as soon as the Lands are Surveyed. The quantity expressed in the Warrant never exceeds 300 Acres. The patent ought to be made out immediately upon return of the Warrant, but this is sometimes allowed to lie over till the person is in condition to pay. The Consideration required by the Proprietor is £5 Sterling per hundred Acres paid down and 8s. 4d. Sterling per Annum of perpetual quit rent. Although there are never any more than 300 Acres expressed in the Warrant, yet there is no strict limitation provided the Grantee pays for the whole that he takes up. There has been to the amount of 1100 Acres Surveyed and held under one Warrant.
Upon the whole the Doctor observes, that the Lands in Pensilvania are more properly sold than granted by the Proprietor.
D. Methods of Granting Lands, 1773?. This discussion of the older and newer methods of granting lands in North America is contained in a paper submitted by Captain Williams to the Earl of Dartmouth, November 18, 1773. It points out that the Crown had now deter mined to sell the vacant lands rather than any longer to give them away. In this way, as well as by means of taxes, the colonies were to be made to contribute to the revenues of the mother country. It is interesting to note this early suggestion for the system of rectangular surveys afterwards adopted by the government of the United States. After survey and division the lands, under this system, were auctioned off. The system was inaugurated just prior to the Revolution, but the results of its working out were obscured by the war.
The Spirit of emigration to North America being now so prevailing in Europe, the Immense tracts of land which the Crown possesses in that Continent are of Course of the greatest Importance, and therefore every Step ought to be taken to regulate every thing relative to them, to prevent the great Confusion which has hitherto attended the grants of those lands and establish an easier and more certain Method of collecting the Quit rents, which have allways fallen short in every Province of what they really ought to be.
There has been two modes of granting lands in North America; In the first and oldest the Patents only specified some particular land Marks supposing to contain so many acres within them as were intended to be granted to the person or persons who applied, but they generally Contained a greater quantity, and the Quit rents of those grants are lower than those of a later date;
In the second and latest Mode an exact description of the tract granted is given in the Patent, and it also particularly Specifies the Number of acres granted, but these likewise generally contain a greater quantity than is Specified, as Neither the Surveyor General, or his Deputy make an exact Survey of those tracts before the Patents are Issued out; and altho' the Quit rents are very Small in proportion to the real value of the lands, Yet the owners do Not by these means pay what they ought to do; to obviate this and assertain the exact quantity each land holder ought to pay for, every old patent should be very exactly Survey'd and upon such a Survey every persons being found to have a greater quantity of land than what their patents Specify should be obliged to give up the overplus or pay for every acre of such overplus the price given in the Province for vacant lands, and ever afterwards the full quit rents for the whole.
1 Earl of Dartmouth MSS., 743.